It hasn’t hit me yet.  Oh, I’ve had fleeting moments of reflection, emotions welling inside, but no sustained thoughts on what has just happened.  Today was my last day as a 30 ½ years employee for the same company.  I have effectively ended my traditional working life after 47 years in the workforce.  I retired today with two fellow employees whom I have known and worked with for many years.  Our company treated us royally leading up to this day.  A retirement celebra

tion party was given us last night.  Our Program Manager MC’d the entire event superbly, with warmth and exuberance.  Our fellow employees were gracious.  The food and adult beverages was delicious. 

The farewell wishes were eloquently delivered.  As I listened to their very kind words about what I meant to them and how I’ll be missed, though very touching and humbling, it reminded me of eulogies I’ve heard at funerals.  Very moving, very emotional, but I’m not dead!  At least not yet!  In a way, a profoundly significant part of my life died today.  That part of my life is forever gone.  And like death, only memories now remain of my “working days.”

I walked away today from my “dream job.”  The position I’ve held for the last 6 years represented 24 years of developing, maturing, and growing into a role that I believe perfectly suited my talents and interests.  I could not believe my good fortune.  Yet, in this economy, with so many people losing good paying jobs with benefits, with all the uncertainty with what the future holds, why on earth would I walk away from my “dream job?”

What comes to my mind is a combination of intuition and faith.

At the age of 22, I realized it was time I start being intentional about chasing my dreams.  With 2 ½ years of university studies and working as a commercial roofer, I knew my future wasn’t in my home town of Tampa, Florida.  With a desire to “see the world” and to finish my college education, I knew it was time for me to leave my family’s nest and the comfort and security of my home town.  Like a lot of sons and daughters of blue collar low income working families, I saw my way out through the military.  Leaving my family behind was very hard.  I’ll never forget the look on my Mom’s face as she waved me good bye at the bus depot as that Greyhound whisked me away from my previous life and onto a new one.  Chasing my dreams was much harder than I thought.

For nearly seven years I served in the military learning that they didn’t care what sex I was, the color of my skin, or what letters ended my family name.  They only cared about training me to do my job well and whether I could perform well or not.  They also taught me the value of team work and service to others.  Getting my eyes off myself.  It was a transcendent experience.  However, as positive an experience this was for me, I knew deep down that although my service in the military allowed me to realize many of my dreams, it was time for me to really spread my wings.  I left the relative job security of the military to go into the commercial world.  With a wife and small child, it was a leap of faith to continue chasing my dreams.

At 60 years old and over 30 years working for the same company, blessed with good health and still looking for new challenges, I decided to retire from the working world.  Deep down, I believe there’s more out there for me to learn and grow into that working for a living will keep me from experiencing. 

I’m following my intuition and being faithful that every time I’ve made a dramatic shift in my life, it has always worked out better than I had expected.

The more I’ve thought of doing this, the more I was drawn to the Camino.  I have no idea what I will be doing for the rest of my life.  My intuition tells me the Camino might just show me The Way.  My wife and daughter are joining me.  What a bonus!  11 days from now my wife, daughter and I travel to Madrid.  14 days from now we begin our Camino to Santiago de Campostela from Burgos.

I’m preparing, I’m excited, I’m anxious, I’m open.

Father, Mother, Daughter in Florida.

Joe, Andrea, and Nancy in Florida.